Interview With Actor Cory Scott Allen

By Ruth on February 11, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Do not misunderstand me–I will interview anyone who agrees to chat with me, and the argument could be made that interviewing the leads will drive more traffic to one’s site and perhaps cause one to advance in one’s career and/or aspirations. While I fully comprehend all that, I absolutely adore the opportunity to interview those actors who might get overlooked. I know I probably sound like a broken record, but it’s true. Hallmark only employs the best cast and crew, in my opinion, and chatting with the supporting leads and even minor roles can be every bit as fulfilling and sometimes more so. I only say that because actors who do not have the clout of name recognition and following usually haven’t had the occasion to detail their story, and I might be the first one to delve beneath the surface and introduce them to the viewers. I am ecstatic that Cory Scott Allen was willing to chat with me this past week in anticipation of his role in the upcoming Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film An Uncommon Grace. However, Cory and I went far beyond that film. In so many ways, Cory gave me the real story of his journey to become an actor, including many of his adventures and misadventures along the way.

 

RH: Nice to chat with you today, Cory. When I looked you up, I noticed all the Hallmark films you’ve been in. I’ve seen the two that are already out, and I’ve got An Uncommon Grace set to DVR this weekend.

CSA: I’ve got a lot of things coming out this year. I’m very blessed. And for those who are interested, we actually shot An Uncommon GraceJL Ranch, and The Ultimate Legacy all in Kentucky.

That’s interesting. I know that Hallmark shoots a lot up in Vancouver, but maybe Kentucky is becoming one of their hubs as well. Where are you from originally?

I was born in Denver. But I grew up mostly in Fayetteville. I moved around a ton. My dad worked in the nuclear industry, so we moved around with his job. I grew up a lot in Arkansas. Finished high school in Baton Rouge. For college, I went to North Carolina for a bit, then went to Louisiana, then Arkansas. Then I finished college in Nashville. I had to figure out what I wanted to do. I wanted to act so bad from a very early age, but I wasn’t in areas where there was an opportunity. It wasn’t even an option. I just kind of fiddled around trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I made my way to Nashville, playing guitar. I went to Belmont and ended up getting a music business degree.

After that, I battled–still battle–addiction. I’ve been clean since 2007. I got cleaned up after college and got a whole new perspective on life. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do or how to get there if I did know what I wanted to do. So I ended up going to culinary school because I wanted to act so bad, and I figured that no matter how bad it got, everybody’s got to eat. {laughs} So I could get a job in a kitchen no matter where I went. Gosh, talk about making a long story long.

I guess I kind of call Nashville home, but my wife and I just relocated to Atlanta.

Well, you actually answered the next question I was going to ask about how you got started in acting. Like most people I talk to, you don’t have a straight path to acting. And you’re not the only one I’ve ever talked to who has overcome addiction. I think it’s very inspiring when someone talks about having that struggle and overcoming it. 

It’s still a struggle every day. It’s a curse, but it’s also a blessing. I think in acting and with people in general, struggling with something like this helps you to be able to relate to anybody. And that’s something I’m so glad I went through just for that single purpose. It’s funny that a lot of the people I meet as I go throughout these different jobs , a lot of them struggle with a lot of similar deals.

There are good friends that I have who were alcoholics and now they are sober. They were working through their alcoholism.

That makes it even harder because when you quit, you wonder if you’re any good.

You know, I think we all have things we struggle with. It may not be drugs or alcohol, but we all have things we struggle with. 

Oh yeah, pick your poison. It’s just a different vice for everyone, but it’s the same process.

From culinary school, how did you go on to become an actor?

I finished culinary school. I was freshly clean and felt great. I had a buddy who now is an incredible chef in Nashville. His name is Jay Mitchell. I got a gig with him opening up a restaurant in Nashville. He and I were building the kitchen and menu for several months. We did it in good faith, expecting to get paid at some point. Well, after all those months, the owners ended up in jail for tax fraud. So we never got paid for any of our time, and we were both pretty bummed.

So we went down the street to another place and we both got a job there. We worked there about a week or two. I went in one morning to work, and it was supposed to be payday. Ruth, I kid you not. The lights were the only thing on. Everything was gone. No sign of anybody. These owners skipped town also. It could have been worse.

At the time, I was engaged to this girl, and things got so bad between the two of us. It was incredibly unhealthy. I went through two jobs that didn’t work out, and this relationship fell completely apart. I was in a very dark place. It was bad. Thank God I wasn’t using or I wouldn’t be talking to you now.

I got an email from an agent about this pilot shooting in Nashville called Outlaw Country. Of course, God is the source of everything. But the only way I can fathom that they even got my email address is because my ex-fiancee had wanted to be an actress so bad. She didn’t know anything about it. She just wanted to be pretty. She was an extra on Outlaw Country. I was gonna go with her, but then my job got screwed up. So I think my email address got into that mix. I got the next email out that was a shotgun to a bunch of people, whoever was in town. They needed a bunch of background for the party scene. I swore up and down I would never do extra work, and I tell you, Ruth, I got that, and I prayed and thanked God. I was so happy. I was just gonna make sixty bucks, but I had nothing.

So I got out there to the set, and it’s a night shoot. Like a zillion people are there. It’s always a huge acting pool with pretty big actors. The AD comes out and sets up all these people. He comes to me and goes, “You. Sorry, we can’t use you. You’ve got to go sit over there.” And I was like, “Huh? What? Okay.” It was a twelve-hour shoot, and I didn’t have any idea of what was going on or what the deal was. It turns out I was about the same height as a couple of the leads on there, and the next day I got a call, and they said, “Sorry how that was handled. What are doing for the next like two months? We want to use you as a stand-in.” I didn’t even know what a stand-in was. “Yes,” is the answer. I had nothing else to do. I went, and I got the bug immediately. I found my people. And I was just dead set on being a stand-in for the rest of my life because it was so exciting and so thrilling and so chaotic.

From there, I just kept meeting people and learning stuff. I kept taking classes. I had a couple more bumps in the road. The closest thing I had to a brother–he took his own life back in 2013. I had a pretty big meltdown at the time. I was like, “Screw it. I’m going out to LA, and I’m gonna try and figure this out.” It was a terrible time for me to try to figure anything out. I went all the way out there. I didn’t have enough money to really make it out there. I mean I had enough to get through the days, but not really get a place to squat. I had a couple buddy’s couches that were there occasionally, but I was living out of my car. I fought through that, and I returned to Nashville with my tail between my legs. Before this tragedy, I had been working as a stand-in for Nashville. I took care of my emotions and everything I was going through because of my cousin’s death.

I went back to LA a second time with a game plan this time. I had a really nice place to stay. I got involved with a great scene study class. I was auditioning a bit, but I wasn’t booking anything. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to learn. I just soaked it up like a sponge.

Then one day, I got a call from Connie Britton Fernandez. The offer was to drive Connie and her dogs back to Nashville for her. I said, “Let me check my schedule.” I wasn’t doing anything.  And I was like, “Yeah, of course.” I needed the networking and the job. So I did that, and I got back and reconnected with my old agent. I auditioned and booked something. Then another audition, and I booked something. I found myself living in a hotel in Nashville. Once I got a little wind in me, I went back to LA, grabbed all my crap, and moved back to Nashville to live. And I’ve been working in the southeast full-time ever since. And those are just the glimpses–the high points without all the detail. Before I was acting full-time, I was supplementing with cooking and catering or whatever.

One of my friends did want me to ask what your experience was like working on Chicago P.D. She remembered you from your episode. 

Oh, fantastic. Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. Gosh, that was the one that changed everything for me. I joined SAG. I had been praying so hard about it. When you take that leap and you’re eligible and you pay your dues, it can be really great for you and it can really hurt you. Especially in the southeast because you’re not able to do any non-union work, which was kind of my bread and butter at the time. But I just felt so compelled to do it that I told my now-wife, “Screw it. I’m gonna do it.” My stomach was in knots, but I was going to go join. I joined, and I kid you not, a week and a half or two weeks later, I was driving up to Chicago for the callback for Chicago P.D. It went really well. I left the callback, and my wife and I were dating at the time. We were eating pizza in Chicago, and I got a call from my agent, and she was like, “They wanna book you. Get all your sh– together and get your SAG pushed through because it’s a different rate in Illinois.” This all happened really quick, and I got everything taken care of.

I worked on that show, and Brian {Geraghty} was amazing to work with. He had worked on something in Nashville called The Identical, and we have a bunch of common friends through that. He was super cool, and it was worth everything. It was a great experience.

 

I knew it was a long shot to ask for questions since you’re a supporting cast member, but I did ask for questions, and  I am so glad she stepped up and asked because she is such a huge fan of all the Chicago shows. 

That’s so awesome and just so flattering. It was a killer experience, and I learned a ton on set. It was the first show I ever did a stunt on. It was a minor one, but it was totally a different world.

Your first Hallmark thing was The Ultimate Legacy, right?

Yes, that was the first film I did for them.

We had watched the first two, and my mom is a big fan of the franchise. And of course, with this one, they couldn’t get everyone they had gotten before. I know how that goes. 

Yeah, scheduling conflicts and such that come up.

At least it was nice to have a conclusion to the trilogy. So how did you end up getting involved with The Ultimate Legacy?

Just a typical process through the agent. They tested me on several different roles for that movie. My wife also got tested a bunch for that one. She was put on hold, in fact, for one of the roles, but it didn’t work out that time. We were going back and forth for a while to Louisville from Nashville. I got along really well with Joanne {Hock}, the director. They worked to try to find a place to put me, and they finally found the role for me. I got to be goofy friend number three. It was a great experience, and I got to make some really great friends that I ran into when I was up in Charlotte doing a Home Depot commercial. I ran into the producers from The Ultimate Legacy as a matter of fact. Small world.

I think it’s great because now Hallmark has brought you back twice to be in their other films. And I don’t know if you know, but the Hallmark network has grown exponentially over the last year or two. 

I know, and it seems like it’s not stopping. I think they’re going to try to push series on a lot of things. And I think that’s good news. I think it would be a great boost for actors.

Oh yeah, they had a bunch of announcements that came out last month. They’re doing like ninety films this year. But according to all the statistics, I was amazed to see that they had grown by like thirty percent last year when other networks were losing viewers. It used to not be cool to admit that you watch Hallmark, but now it’s becoming acceptable.

Yeah, it’s a thing.

And what’s neat about the ones that you have been in is that they are on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel which means they are not the simple romantic comedies. They have a bit more drama to them. 

Yes, I think you might say they’re more plot-driven.

Yes, very much. Now JL Ranch–that had to be an experience.

That was amazing! That was a bucket list for me, you know? That was super cool. To get to work with Jon Voight–that was amazing. I mean Jon Voight! {laughs} All I could think of was the episode of Seinfeld about Jon Voight’s pencil where George buys a used car because the previous owner was named Jon Voight, and there was a pencil in it with tooth marks, and he carries it around telling everyone that it’s Jon Voight’s pencil. And it ends up being Jon Voight, the dentist. That’s all I could think about every time I saw him. I’ve just got to get a pencil! {laughs} I didn’t do it though. He was awesome. He was such a kind and giving actor. People wanted to talk to him all the time. So to pull him away and go, “Hey, Jon Voight, can we run these lines a couple times?” And he drops everything he’s doing and does it. That’s awesome. Not much more respectable than that. He gave me great advice. We had a wonderful time, and it was a great experience.

Do you know that they’re going to make a sequel to that film?

I had heard something like that. I know they were talking about making a series out of it.

They might do that, but they have formally announced a sequel to JL Ranch. And hopefully they would bring you back.

Oh, I hope they do. I know Jon referenced something about it, but you can’t always count on things you hear in this business.

My mom and I loved the movie. It was neat to see a Western movie ’cause you really don’t see those much any more. 

Yeah, Westerns seem to be a thing of the past. But they did a really good job with it, I thought. It was classy. It wasn’t over-the-top. It was good. I was pretty happy with that one. That would be great to work on that again. I mean, Melanie Griffith! How cool is that?

And they really gave that film a lot of extra promotion. 

Yes, I would say that the promotion for that film was bigger than usual. And the star power was pretty awesome. I didn’t get to work with James Caan, but my buddy Robert {Thompson} had a scene with him, and it was awesome. He’s like, “He is the godfather of gravy.”

And now you’re in An Uncommon Grace. That premieres on February 12th. What can you tell us about your role in that film?

Not a lot, honestly. I can talk to you on Monday. {laughs}

{laughs} Okay, that’s all right. I have not read the book, but the previews look very dramatic. So your character is Deputy Small.

I get to play a cop, yes. I have a couple of good scenes with a great actress, Jes Macallan. She’s amazing. She was my buddy and ally on set. And Sean Faris was incredible to work with. Dude, what a trouper that guy is, for sure. I don’t think I can tell you much more about the film.

I fully understand. I do not want to ever push an actor for spoilers or anything like that.

No, I want to keep workin’. {laughs} We’re going to kinda keep that one locked up until after the premiere.

In addition to the Hallmark stuff we’ve mentioned, what are some other things that have recently come up or will be coming up that you can talk about?

One thing that came out in November was a music video I did with Chris Young called Sober Saturday Night. It might sound random, but it really turned out well. It was a pretty emotional deal.

Last year, I filmed a lot. I worked on something that is now called Sun Records. I did an episode of that. That should be coming out this year. I did a movie with Nicholas Cage called Vengeance: A Love Story. It should be coming out some time in February or March, I believe. I did a movie called Steel Country which I’m incredibly excited about. It’s with Andrew Scott, and it’s a murder mystery. It’s heavy drama, but it’s the same producer that did The King’s Speech, so it’s a big one. I had a smaller part in that, but I’m hoping it will be a big movie. Then there’s An Actor Prepares. That one is going to be so good! I got to work with Mamie Gummer, Meryl Streep’s daughter. And Jack Huston plays her brother. The movie is about their father, Jeremy Irons, traveling from California to New York and the different things they encounter on their road trip. It’s a comedy, and I think it’s gonna be really funny. I play Mamie’s future husband. That was an absolute blast. And then I did a pilot with Seth Green and Bobcat Goldthwait called Messed Up Stories, and it will premiere on TruTV, but I’m not sure when. They’re doing a series that is kind of Black Mirror-esque, but a little more family usable. And then as of this past Friday, I just started shooting Den of Thieves with Gerard Butler and Pablo Schreiber. Like I was telling you, in the last year or so, things have really picked up.

That is impressive. I’m so glad for you. And I’m sure you’re also relieved when this happens, but I like to see people succeed in their dreams.

It’s a day-to-day job. You wrap up one, and you’re literally unemployed, and you have to start all over again. But the level of things I got to work on last year were beyond my expectations.

So these movies you mentioned, do you know if they will air on network TV or on Netflix or in the regular theater?

I don’t honestly. I think they’re all going to be a theatrical release. The only one that may not be is the one with Nicholas Cage. I think that one is still up in the air. It may end up being Amazon or something like that. Since I’m not in LA, I don’t always know when and where things are going to be released. I’m usually the last person to find out.

I think even LA actors don’t always find out till the week of or even the day of.

I think sometimes the crew doesn’t even know for sure because they have to edit it and all that.

The actors up in Vancouver don’t even get to see half of their works because Hallmark doesn’t air up there. So they are often in the dark as well. 

Sometimes you have to stalk a project online to find out when it will air.

Then sometimes as an actor you’ll be in something. You tell everyone to watch you on whatever show on a certain night. And then later, your grandma texts you and says, “I didn’t see you. Where were you?” Then I’m like, “Well, they cut my scene.” {laughs} I usually wait until I see it and know for certain I will be on something. It happens all the time.

I know you’re focused on your acting, but do you have in mind that one day you might want to do some writing or directing?

I produced this movie called The Dust Storm a couple of years ago. You can check it out on Amazon, iTunes, on demand, etc. We produced it and filmed it all in Nashville. At the time, I thought, “Hell, no!” At the time, I thought I’d never want to direct or write. It was the hardest job I’d ever had in my life– producing. My wife is an incredibly talented actress and writer. Since we’ve been collaborating on stuff, we’ve definitely tossed around the idea of writing together. But I don’t know about directing. I don’t feel like I’ve learned enough to give anyone suggestions about anything. {laughs}

I was a music teacher, and I know about directing programs. I’m glad I don’t have to do it any more.

It’s stressful, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. I think I learned how to keep from being so stressed. But I don’t think I would want to direct for film or TV either. 

It’s a lot of pressure. But I tell you what, Ruth, I would definitely direct over AD-ing any day of the week.

I have a friend who is a script supervisor. She loves her job, but she has horror stories she can tell me.

That is another tough one. I see all the time cast members who disrespect the script supervisors. I make it a point to never do that. I don’t see why, but whoever is that role gets blamed for so much. And most of the time, it has nothing to do with what they did either right or wrong. But they become the focal point for everybody’s stress. It’s because they have to be the one to bring bad news to people and tell them “you screwed up.” It’s a tough job, and I don’t think I could handle it. Tell her I said, “Hats off to her.”

I definitely will, and I know that will mean a lot to her {which it did}. Since you’re married, how do you balance your work schedule and your personal life? You said your wife is an actress?

 She’s an incredible actress. I always swore I’d never marry an actor, but she’s amazing. I can’t imagine life with anybody else. When we started taping our auditions together, our professional lives increased dramatically. For example, today I got up and drove to Charlotte, and she went, “Hey, I think I’m gonna come with you.” And so she did. Right now, it hasn’t been a major problem to try to juggle everything, but I think she’s on the verge of getting a lot more work. It could get a little more difficult down the road, but now it seems perfect.

Sometimes it works well for a couple to be in the business together if they are equally committed to being actors because they understand what the other person is going through. It could end up being a positive thing, and I hope it never becomes an issue. And the fact that you realize it could become a problem is a good sign.

Yes, we are able to prepare for any difficult circumstances that might come up. She’s an angel, and she is so incredibly supportive. She works all the time, too, and we’re both beyond blessed to be able to do it together. Hopefully one of these days, we’ll be able to act together.

Definitely. Maybe Hallmark will put you in a film together. Being such a family-oriented company, they are supportive of couples both working for Hallmark. So maybe it will happen. 

It will happen one of these days. I just wish it was sooner rather than later.

Well, one thing is true about Hallmark. They listen to their fans, and things change because of their fans. So you never know. Maybe some people will ask Hallmark to put you both in a movie together. I know networks listen to their fans, but Hallmark REALLY listens. And they are very loyal both to the cast and to their fans.

That’s so cool. That doesn’t happen with many other networks. When you’re done, most of them just slap you on the butt, send you on your way, and that’s it. But this is really good to hear.

I know a lot of people who are obsessed with Hallmark. I don’t know if it’s because of how negative everything is in the world now, and Hallmark is typically positive, but it may be people looking for something happier and more digestable rather than turning on the TV and finding out all the bad stuff that’s going on in the world.

Yes, that is definitely happening. Some of the fans watch the network to escape from the garbage in the world. If you turn on network TV, breaking news seems to interrupt everything. We may know how a Hallmark movie is going to end, but for two hours, we can just enjoy it.

Yes, it’s just relaxing. And no matter your political persuasion or what you believe about this world, it’s nice to have a break from bad news and all that. So I tend to think that Hallmark will continue to grow over the next several years. And I hope my wife and I get to be a part of it.

See, what did I tell you? Cory has a phenomenal story to tell, and he was incredibly open, sincere, humble, and positive. For him, everything that has happened to him has become a blessing in some shape or form, and now that all the pieces seem to be lining up for his ultimate success in this profession he yearned to be a part of for the vast majority of his life, he is wild with anticipation. It would appear that the singular thing that could make him even happier would be for his wife to begin to have comparable success as an actress. There is no doubt in my mind that he loves that woman, and he puts her above his career and his desires. Furthermore, it is encouraging to note his reliance on God throughout his post-addiction life. He is fully aware of the pitfalls that exist in every corner of his life, but with God, his wife, his friends, and his family, not to mention the remarkable industry professionals and fans that have entered his world, I am certain that he will continue to persevere towards this inextinguishable passion that he has for acting. I would venture to say he’s a country boy at heart, and what you see is what you get. As long as those qualities remain strong within him, I have no doubt that the right jobs and people will continue to come his way. I would invite everyone to tune in tomorrow night (February 12) to the Hallmark Movies & Mystery network to watch his latest film premiere An Uncommon Grace. Additionally, I invite everyone to follow him at the links below. I understand he’s not terribly “twitter savvy” yet, but I tend to think he does better than he realizes. Let’s support this young man who has made the decision to pursue his dreams and value every experience he has within the industry. I long for the day–maybe ten years from now or so–when I can say, “I knew him way back when, and he is still the same humble, talented, kind man today as he was then.”

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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